Psych 311 Unit 1 study guide

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1

Why rigorous research methods are necessary in psychology,

Aspects of research that are easier and harder in psychology than in other fields

- Theory of mind: It’s easy to make assumptions about why

- Situational behaviors

- Placebos are harder

- Realism: more challenging to create psychologically realistic scenarios Ex: couple's behavior

- Ethics: some things cannot be ethically manipulated to show cause and effect

- Culture: plays a profound role in social rules, interpersonal relationships and method of learning

2

Construct, operationalization/operational definition, and the relationship between them

Ability to apply these definitions

Ability to generate your own operational definitions and discuss pro’s and con’s of that definition

Construct: A hypothetical process or characteristic Ex: self-esteem

Operational definition: A procedure for defining and measuring a construct Ex: Rosenberg's self-esteem scale

3

Pro’s/con’s of using previously established measures/instruments as your operational definition of a construct

Pro's: Ability to compare your results to other studies in the field, known strengths & weaknesses (including reliability & validity), can take decades to develop a single measure & the work is already done for you

Con's: Maybe expensive, known weaknesses

4

Find, identify, and explain the purpose of information about operational definitions/measurement in the introduction/method sections of an empirical article; definition of an empirical article

An empirical article is a scholarly report of a research project (observation, description, and/or manipulation)

The most valuable empirical articles are those that come from peer-reviewed journals

5

Read a news report about empirical research and identify important questions about operational definitions and measurement procedures that would be important for interpreting the research results

...

6

Factors that affect reliability of a measure: most common sources of error

- Observer error: problems with the recorder of the data

- Environmental changes: something in the environment that affects performance

- Participant changes: something in the participant that affects performance

7

Scales of measurement (nominal, ordinal, interval, ratio), examples of each, and implications/properties/uses of each

- Nominal: categories with different names but are not related to each other in any way Ex: psychologist, psychiatrist, social worker

- Ordinal: categories that have some relationship and are usually sequential, Likert scale Ex: tall, grande, venti

- Interval: sequential categories of the same size, but with an arbitrary 0 point, most common in psychology Ex: IQ Scores, fahrenheit scale

- Ratio: sequential categories of the same size, but with a meaningful 0 point expressing lack Ex: height, weight, age, kelvin scale

8

How the operationalization of a large measure or instrument usually works (use of multiple-item scales, use of averages, subscales, etc.) and why it would be used

How/why citing a scale is an operational definition

When your construct is something like “intelligence,” then, you are usually operationalizing that construct through a summary or total score on a particular instrument, or the score on a particular subscale therefore, the measure you use is the operational definition

9

Strengths & Weaknesses of: Self-Report Measures

Strengths:

  • Many constructs cannot be measured in any other way (e.g., Do you feel sad? Are you feeling hopeful?)
  • Direct and efficient
  • Respectful of research participant’s perspective and input

Weaknesses

  • Can be distorted by the impression that the participant wants to make and/or lack of self-awareness
  • Answering questions in the self-report measure may increase participant awareness of a topic, and may change participant experience (i.e., can work as a form of “treatment”)
10

Strengths & Weaknesses of: Physiological Measures

Strengths:

  • Usually objective
  • Can be highly specific
  • Hard for participant to distort or modify in response to desire to make a particular type of impression
  • Does not require any self-awareness or understanding from participant

Weaknesses

  • Often very expensive
  • Interpretation is not always objective, and researchers can be more prone to correlation/causation errors
  • Process of physiological measurement can change experience of participant behavior is no longer representative of experience outside of the lab
11

Strengths & Weaknesses of: Behavioral Measures

Strengths:

  • Can be objective
  • Can be highly specific
  • Does not require any self-awareness or understanding from participant

Weaknesses

  • Can be time consuming and can require lots of researcher time and training (and sustained attention)
  • More opportunity for observer errors and inter-rater disagreement
  • Limited to topics that can be observed behaviorally (e.g., how would you behaviorally assess a sense of hopelessness or suicidal ideation?)
  • Process of behavioral observation can change participant behavior
12

Strengths & Weaknesses of: Using Multiple Measures

Strengths:

  • Can provide check/balance from one measure to another (e.g., self-report plus behavioral observation – if they match, can increase confidence in results)
  • Can provide information about validity of new measures and/or congruence of measures

Weaknesses:

  • Can measure different parts of a construct and therefore end up with contrasting results (operational definitions may not work together)
  • Can significantly complicate interpretation and increase opportunity for errors
  • Can compound weaknesses of each measure individually
13

Floor and ceiling effects

Floor Effect: When the range of possible responses on your measure do not go low enough, for example, if you are giving an IQ test, but the “easiest” items are too hard for the clients you are testing, all clients may get a score of 0 on the measure, which may disguise significant differences between them

Ceiling Effect: When the range of possible responses on your measure do not go high enough, for example, if you are giving test in PSYC 311, but the “hardest” items are too easy for the students you are testing, all students may get 100% on the test, which may disguise significant differences in understanding of the material

14

Types of scales

Likert scale, true-false, multiple choice, open-ended/essay, sentence completion